Only a few weeks after Keith Cerny, The Dallas Opera’s former General Director and CEO, announced his resignation to assume a similar role at Calgary Opera, The Dallas Opera announced its 2018-2019 season. Cerny’s fingerprints are on The Dallas Opera’s 62nd season of five operas, but Emmanuel Villaume, the Mrs. Eugene McDermott Music Director, is most excited about the company’s ability to attract talented singers to perform hard-to-cast operas.
The season themed “Swept Away” begins with The Flying Dutchman, running October 12-20. Richard Wagner’s opera is inspired by German legends of the ghost ship, with an emphasis on redemption through love. The Dutchman is a sea captain, doomed to roam the seas for eternity unless he finds a faithful wife. He thinks he has found his salvation in the form of Senta, a beautiful girl determined to free The Dutchman from his curse. When Senta’s disappointed suitor, Erik, intervenes, The Dutchman fears his search is not over and Senta must prove her devotion.
The cast includes bass-baritone Greer Grimsley as The Dutchman, Anja Kampe as Senta, and tenor Jay Hunter Morris as Erik.
“It is always an event for a company to put on a Dutchman. One of the reasons it is not done that often is that it very hard to cast. We were able to put forward for you this amazing cast that could be on the stage of any of the five best opera houses in the world, including The Dallas Opera,” Villaume said.
Opera’s most famous gypsy will cast her seductive spell from October 19 - November 4. Georges Bizet’s Carmen is as enchanting as the seductress at the center of the story. Don José falls in love with Carmen at first sight, neglecting his sweetheart Micaëla and is heartbroken upon discovering Carmen’s short attention span and wandering eye.
Mezzo-soprano Stéphanie D’Oustrac will make her Dallas Opera debut in title role with Don José played by Dallas Opera veteran Stephen Costello. The role of Micaëla will be played by Vanessa Vasquez, the 2017 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions winner.
“We are very happy to bring next to these performers who are having absolutely first-rate international careers a young singer that we think will have an international career,” Villaume said.
The Dallas Opera will have a Puccini “mini-fest” with back-to-back productions of Manon Lescaut (March 1-9) and La Bohème (March 15-31). Manon Lescaut is one of Puccini’s earliest works, featuring the beautiful Manon who falls in love with Chevalier des Grieux. When wealthy Geronte offers her a life of luxury, Manon must choose between money and love.
Lyric-spinto soprano Kristin Lewis plays Manon with tenor Gregory Kunde playing Chevalier des Grieux in this semi-staged production. Villaume anticipates greatness from Kunde. “The voice has never been so, so strong and so good,” he said. “In our industry, his is counted as one of three or four of the best tenors and is the best tenor to sing that role. No contest.”
The love lives of Bohemian artists in 19th century Paris is at the heart of Puccini’s most popular opera, La Bohème. The sweeping love story features tenor Jean-François Borras as Rodolfo and soprano Pumeza Matshikiza as Mimi, baritone Anthony Clark Evans as Marcello and soprano Sara Gartland as Musette.
“This is very original casting for Dallas,” Villaume said. “Dallas has a great tradition of hiring first-time singers from Europe who go on to very important careers.”
In a bit of “luxury casting”, legendary bass Samuel Ramey will play the dual roles of Benoit/Alcindoro.
The season will conclude with Guiseppe Verdi’s final work, Falstaff, running April 26 – May 4. This production from the Los Angeles Opera will mark the first time The Dallas Opera has performed this masterpiece. In this operatic adaption of Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor, Sir John Falstaff believes he is debonair and attempts to seduce two wealthy women. Mistress Ford and Mistress Page see through Falstaff’s plot and come up with scheme of their own.
Bass-baritone Mark Delavan will play Falstaff with soprano Angela Meade as Alice Ford and mezzo-soprano Megan Marino as Meg Page. “This is an amazing, amazing cast put together,” Villaume said.
The Dallas Opera also announced its 2018-2019 Family Performance Series, including Mozart and Company (October 27, 2018 and May 4, 2019), Pépito by Jacques Offenbach (November 3, 2018 and April 27, 2019) and The Bremen Town Musicians by John Davies (October 6, 2018 and March 16, 2019).
“Music education is and always be will be a very important part of our mission,” Kern Wildenthal, Interim General Director and CEO, said. “So if you have kids or want to be a kid, come and enjoy.”
All performances will be at the Winspear Opera House at the AT&T Performing Arts Center in the Dallas Arts District.